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On the Ground: The Frankford Y comes back to life

In 2009, after nearly 70 years in operation, the famed Frankford Y at Arrott and Leiper Streets closed its doors due to funding woes. The past three years have been a struggle—the Y has switched owners more than once, been vandalized numerous times and faced the threat of foreclosure. But now, thanks to the Northwood Civic Association and its vice president Frank Bennett, the historic building is experiencing new life. If all goes according to plan, the Frankford Y will reopen its doors and reclaim its status as a neighborhood institution. 

Even with all the optimism, there are significant hurdles to clear before the building can welcome the community. After years of neglect, some basic necessities need to be taken care of. "Fixing the leaky roof is our top priority," explains Bennett. "That, and getting the electric turned on. The goal right now is just to stabilize the building.”   

Bennett is a long-time member of the Northwood Civic Association and understands the importance of bringing the Y back. "It’s been on the Association’s radar for a while," he explains. "I took a tour of the building and saw the extensive damage caused by vandals, but I still wanted to take it over because it’s such an important asset here." In conjunction with the Civic Association, Bennett was able to take control of the building and form a new board of directors. 

The New Frankford Community Y is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to develop programs that use the facility in a manner that benefits everyone. "We want to activate parts of the facility, including getting a day care tenant, utilizing the weight room as a multi-purpose room, offering GED courses and training, and a whole host of other activities centered on enabling individuals to achieve more than what they have today," say Bennett. If this initial plan proves successful, Bennett and the board want to eventually reopen the pool.

Figuring out the long-term plan for the Y is extremely important; Bennett says that if the board can put together a strong business plan, the bank will forgive a current outstanding mortgage of more than $200,000 on the property. This would be a significant boon for the board and the facility, which currently lacks the resources to tackle a financial burden this steep. 

For now, Bennett and the board are focused on that leaky roof and securing insurance for the property. "There’s still a lot of work to do," says Bennett. "Slowly but surely though, the Frankford Y is coming back to life.” 

Source: Frank Bennett, Northwood Civic Association
WriterGreg Meckstroth
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